We sang them in school, we sang them in church on Sunday and we sang them at home, at family gatherings and special events, many happy, many sad.
Today is the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, D.C. and Dr. King’s infamous “I Have a Dream Speech” (See my post of earlier today, Martin Luther King, Jr. – I Have a Dream Speech, Wednesday, August 28, 1963 (AMENDED).)
I recall that it was a summer afternoon, Wednesday to be exact and I remember my mother sitting us down in front of the television set to watch the March on Washington.
As young as we were, we knew that something special was taking place and thus, there was no debate about how we would rather be outside playing stickball instead on a summer afternoon.
We sat there, listened, watched and absorbed history in the making.
It was a memorable day for an eight year old. Marion Anderson AND Mahalia Jackson sang were present. Even more amazing is it that for some reason, much of the footage of both of these two incredible women that afternoon among others is so difficult to track down. Moving on….
Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary were among those who made history that afternoon in front of the Lincoln Memorial as well.
Many of the songs from the Civil Rights era are embedded in all of us. It was an emotional journey. After all, those were emotional times and having grown up during that era, watching it play out in the newspapers and on the 6:00 news, I found myself journeying further back than the March on Washington, aware that God was at the wheel.
As I prepared this compilation, at first I smiled, then I felt a tugging at my heart. Next I shed a tear and then I became angry. The memories are as beautiful as they are endearing but let the record show that the songs of the Civil Rights era, the legacy, before and beyond are not privy to Black folks or those who have hijacked this part of AMERICAN history.
ALL OF THIS belongs to EVERY ONE OF US.
THIS is OUR HISTORY.
THIS is OUR LEGACY.
America, America! God shed His Grace on Thee!
I mentioned above that I believed during the Civil Rights era that God was at the wheel. He hasn’t forsaken us America. Wake up!